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News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb. (2012) A woman hiding a secret is murdered. New. (CC) (Stereo)

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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb.  
    (2012) A woman hiding a secret is murdered. New. (CC)...  

    October 5, 2012
    10:00 - 10:59pm PDT  

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and we're asking for help. >> it was like hearing a ghost. a voice from beyond the grave. >> there's no way i can go back. >> can she help solve her own murder? >> so surreal. this is something to happens to other people. not to you. >> she was a dancer who married a dashing photographer. they seemed a perfect family. until the bone chilling night she went missing. >> you could see the body underneath the snow. >> where was her husband that height? >> my attorney said you don't know the tidal wave that's coming. >> this time, they weren't so sure. >> it's a who done it.
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>> three possible suspects? push turns out this victim also had a boyfriend and he had a wife. >> everyone starts getting questioned. >> husband, boyfriend, jealous spouse. >> i said something like i hope she rots in hell. >> so, what did happen that snowy night? because the most important clue of all may be the victim's own voice. >> i knew there was a line to draw. >> i'm lester holt and this is "dateline." tonight, secrets in the snow. here's keith morrison. >> it was cold the night it happened. so very cold. a night to be inside by a fireplace, tucked under a quilt. not outside in the frigid dark. not up here, snow thick already that late night and with the windchill, 24 below.
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>> i don't know enough to know exactly what happened. still trying to figure it out. >> what in god's name was his wife doing walking out into the brutal cold and more to the poi point, what happened to her? this middle class married mother of three, where did she go? without a word to him or their friends. >> can't imagine this was happening to you or your friend. >> she was just plain missing. >> it was terrifying, dreadful and the events are about to prove a shocking lesson on what can dwell beneath a person's public skin. really a secret? >> a lot of it, sure. >> everybody has secreted. stephanie roller brunner's secrets lived as she did, in a skier's paradise. silverthorne, colorado and the happy way she got here was the
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sort of thing you might expect to read in a romance novel. >> instantly. >> they met at the top of the mountain. dale brunere was takie ining photographers. >> people said why don't you sell more of your work that way. buffalo don't carry credit cards. >> any way, it was up there on the mountain he spotted this young woman, seeming to be conducting a forestry survey. >> i skied up to her, said what are you doing? writing parking tickets? >> then she took off her skiing coat. >> i was stunned. she was beautiful. >> when they got married a few years ago, they eloped. jetted off to fiji. it was so stephanie, said her friend. >> yeah, they kind of just ran off and did it.
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they made their home in silv silverthorne. >> when things were rolling, around 25 photographers working. >> stephanie got a job in county government, environmental planning department. they raised their three young children. >> awesome children. the best. >> smile. >> life for the family was -- >> fantastic. we traveled, we vacationed. ♪ >> but it was in her spare moments that stephanie was truly transformed. a ballroom dancer. >> dancing was probably to her what photography is to me. >> our guest star -- >> it was her passion, said her old friend, bill. >> stephanie loved to dance. dance was her life. she was alive when she danced. >> hardly surprising then that stephanie and jen were close,
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too. >> we started a ballroom dance program together and pretty soon, she had me doing back flips and partnering and just all kinds of fun things. >> but it was dance that led on the whole cascade of trouble. in the fall of 2010. as an annual fund-raiser here called dancing with the mountain stars. local worthies paired with ballroom pros. did you go? >> i did not go to the last one. >> had a wedding so shoot, so he missed the chance to see stephanie teach those led foot td businessmen is fox trot, the tang o and so on. which means he also missed what happened that night. >> she coached a number of couples and in the process, she met a man named ron. >> ron, a local, married
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physical therapist. >> she started working with him and got to know him and saw how funny and animated he was and how that made her feel. she really did call it a true love moment. >> and he seemed to feel the same thing about her? >> oh, yeah, they really clicked together. >> oh, they did. oh, boy, did they ever and stephanie, dancing on air. her whole world upended. >> she didn't realize there could be love like that. >> the secret from her family, of course, but she told her friends she found her soul mate. >> it was almost odd how she told a number of us, i just want you to know i'm very happy. >> but joy and misery come in pairs sometimes. as thanksgiving approached, chaos took over. it was a wednesday, middle of october, when thicks started piling up. >> horrendous day for her. she went to work that day and
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the county laid off 20 people that day. >> including stephanie. in fact, her troubles and secrets seemed to pile up like the snow. >> she was behaving a little bit spring traini strangely. >> it was thanksgiving week that cold, dark night. not far away from silver tlolth someone robbed a bank. dale was in bed he said when stephanie announced she was going out to clear her head and then didn't come back. in the morning, he called the police. >> i got a phone call from dale bruner and said i want to make a report my wife is missing. >> it was veronica nichols who took the call. >> he said i got the kids up, got them to school and thought i should call you guys. >> stephanie's car was in the driveway and when he called her
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cell phone, it went to voice moil. he called her best friend, jennifer. >> i panicked. this is something that happens to other people, not to you. >> oh, but it had happened. as the police check local hotels and hospitals, stephanie's friends scour the neighborhood. >> it just seemed unbelievable that stephanie would not check in. >> the day became two, and then three, and some private secrets are about to become very public indeed. >> so, where was stephanie? police had a lot of questions for her husband, dale. they also wanted to talk to that other man in her life, the boyfriend, ron and when we come back, they do. >> i just want to ask straight up again, do you know where stephanie is now? >> when "secrets in the snow" continues.
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all night, the bitter cold licked you should the door frames of the bruner house here in colorado. hardly a night to talk a walk. not a night walk. had she hurt herself or had someone else hurt her? it wasn't like stephanie roller bruner to just disappear. >> it seemed more likely it might be a stranger that might be involved or that stephanie herself might have just run off in despair and maybe hurt herself. >> stephanie's friends and family poored over those last few weeks so full of change. were there clues? some knew about stephanie's relationship with that new man and how upset she was about losing her job. still, she seemed to be holdinging the trouble at bay. six weeks before she disappe disappeared, she suggested a family holiday.
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>> she said let's go to clemens springs. old, classic, wonderful place. >> and it wasn't almost romantic, said dale. almost like the old days. when they got back, she gave him the news. >> she said, i want a divorce. i said you don't love me anymore? she said i met this other person. it's not that i don't love you, but i think i met my soul mate again. >> and dale's world came crashing down. >> i called her brother, her sisters, her mom, i said do you know what's happening? >> i remember during the phone call, feeling really annoyed. like why are are you calling me to try to sway me to your side. but then by the time the call ended, i was thinking, what is stef doing. >> you've got to talk some sense into her. you've got to make her see that she needs to stay with me. >> you had no idea that this was coming?
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>> no, not until she told me she was in love with somebody. >> helplessly in love, she told him. she fell for the other man at the night of the mountain stars. >> i go back to that night, i didn't go to that event with her. i wasn't going to be dancing with her on a big, important night. >> it was a curiously old fashioned affair. her feelings were not so much physical as pure and emotional. but she made it clear to dale that even though she still loved him, she had no choice but to follow these powerful feelings and to make a life with that new man. >> i said, if this is what you want, this is what you want. >> it was decided dale would stay in the family house, so the weekend before stephanie disappeared, he helped her move into a rented condo. >> she asked me to help.
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i didn't fall out of love with her. i still loved her. >> then, the middle of the night, her first night away, dale says he woke up to a commotion downstairs. it was stephanie. she crawled back into bed with him. >> she had come home. said this was a horrible mistake and she wanted to move back in. >> i said, are you sure? she said, don't worry, everything's fine. >> but now, just two days later, things were not fine. stephanie was missing and dale was at the police department telling police officers where he thought his wife might have gone. >> i thought she would go somewhere with her wi-fi and be on the computer and my other guess was maybe she went to ron's house. i didn't know. >> the police interviewed the other man, ron. >> i just want to ask straight up again, do you know where stephanie is right now? >> i absolutely have no idea. >> as ron admitted, he and stephanie had a romantic
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relationship, but he denied they ever slept together. >> we never ended up having sex. >> then ron told them something very interesting. that he had ended the affair. it was the night she moved into the condo. he said to stephanie, it was over. >> i said i want to move to florida with my wife. we're going to try to go back to naples and make this work. >> did you have any reason to believe anything bad had happened to her? >> but thanksgiving day came, went, no stephanie. an overstretched local police force called in the colorado bureau of investigations, which is why agent greg sadar was standing below the shallow blue river on what looked like a lump of snow and some rocks. >> there was several inches of snow on top of her and you could see the body under the snow.
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>> it was stephanie all right. but how did she get here? >> coming up, the autopsy finding that surprised everyone. had stephanie been murdered? >> it's a who done it. i had at least three viable suspects. >> any one of them. >> absolutely. >> when "dateline" continues. ...seems like you guys got a little gassed out there. enough already. c'mon guys. next question. hello! what's your favorite color? what's my favorite color? yes. purple.
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honda accord. it starts with you. it was perplexing almost that a thing so awful had happened in the midst of such beauty. here in the frigid rushing waters of blue river three and a half days after she disappeared, they found stephanie roller bruner, nude except for a tie dyed shirt that clung to her body, had come to rest among the snow covered rocks.
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>> just a little bit farther beyond that, where the water's calm. yes, sir. >> she hasn't gone far. agent sadar of the colorado bureau of investigation. not far from her house. >> rough guess, 3, 350 yards. >> the news spread fast. >> today, investigators say they have found a body. >> and that was a pretty bad day. >> your heart drops. let's find out what happened to her, along with the sadness. >> the county coroner broke the news to dale. >> they said, dale, we need to tell you something, i'm like, what? and i just went into convulsions. >> but how did he get here? was it suicide, accident or murder? there's a bridge just upstream from the place they found stephanie's body. dale told police she often liked to walk there. she could have been attacked on this bridge and shoved over.
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>> that was one of our early fears. >> or that she just simply committed suicide. jumped in the water, hit her head and that was that. >> that was another legitimate consideration. >> so, that's the puzzle. >> it is. >> until four days after thanksgiving, when the autopsy revealed a curious detail. one that seems to rule out suicide. >> there was no wounds at all to the soles of her feet. >> what did that mean? >> that certain lly means that e did not walk to where we had found her without shoes. >> and just in case there was any lingering doubt, the autopsy revealed she had taken a blow to the head and strangled, but was still alive when thrown into the freezing water. the ultimate cause of death, hypothermia. >> we knew at that point she had been murdered. >> first murder there in decades, but who would do such a thing and why? sfwl it was just hours before
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stephanie took her walk in this virtually crime free community that somebody robbed that nearby bank, so, did the robber later encounter stephanie and then assault and kill her? >> this is where a predator could have been hiding out. it was any number of opportunities at that point. >> it was so cold, perhaps too cold for a lurking predator? >> this is one of those very few cases where it's a who done it, if you will and we've got at least three viable suspects. >> any one of whom who had potential. >> absolutely. >> there was ron holt's house, the other man who had just suddenly dumped stephanie. there was cindy, ron's wife, who if she knew about the affair, could have wanted revenge. and then there was dale. dale bruner, the husband. and anyone of them thought the detective, was certainly physically capable of committing the crime.
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>> her husband, six-foot, 200 pounds, very athletic guy. mr. holt, a big, strong guy. his wife was very physically fit woman. >> so, any one of them. >> i would believe so, yes, sir. >> they took ron in for questioning several times and again and again, he insisted it wasn't him. >> i screwed up my marriage. i made a mess of my life. >> he admitted that in the last hours of stephanie's life, he met her here in this parking lot around dinner time and it wasn't a happy meeting. >> i was actually trying to tell her that it was over. >> he had earlier sent her a break-up e-mail, he said. she insisted on seeing him in person. she wasn't taking it well at all. >> and then she said, asked me again one more time, we can make it work. i said, no, we cannot make this work. >> she was still interested in having a relationship with him.
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>> and didn't want to let him go. >> correct. and i'm sure that he was motivated to not let his wife found out about that. >> which begged the question, where was ron later that evening when stephanie went for her walk? >> you said you were at home, never went out on monday night. >> correct. >> the detectives called in ron's wife. >> it would not be unheard of for a woman to be very upset to find that her husband has been seeing another woman and want to go to significant lengths by eliminating. >> her alibi, she was home, sleeping, right next to ron. >> okay, did you know -- >> so, their alibis were each
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other. detectives kept prodding. for almost a month, detectives went back and forth between ron and cindy and stephanie's husband, dale. who by that time, had been advised by a friend, better get a lawyer. >> so, i called and my attorney said you don't know the onslaught, the tidal wave that's coming to you, do you? you have no idea. i said, apparently not. >> oh, yes, and what a tidal wave it was. >> so, three potential suspects. the husband, dale. the boyfriend, ron and ron's wife, cindy. when we return, police narrow their focus to just one after a
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very strange discovery. >> every trace had been scrubbed from the house. r is that ? lemon green! good job, ethan! ♪ clean up time clean up time ♪ ♪ clear the table make it shine! ♪ we don't let frequent heartburn come between us and what we love. so if you're one of them people who gets heartburn and then treats day after day... block the acid with prilosec otc and don't get heartburn in the first place! [ male announcer ] one pill each morning. 24 hours. zero heartburn.
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it's horrible. i, i don't even know how to explain having a microscope go into your world. >> there are few secrets that can escape a seasoned homicide detective. >> and dale and stephanie it turns out, have their share of secrets. but the weird thing, one morning six weeks before stephanie was murdered -- >> she heard spanking and she told me she counted at least eight spanks until she caught up the hall and down to the kitchen. >> well, my boy was acting out far beyond the norm. i said, come on.
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>> that was a wednesday morning. stephanie was furious about the spanking and stormed off to work and that very day, was laid off from her job. then, still upset with dale, went to see a judge and fired a restraining order from him. >> honestly, i was a bit surprised. i had never detected any major problems. >> but this was distinctly odd. she asked the court to delay implementing the order until the following monday and went home and said that dale suggested that family holiday. >> we had a wonderful weekend in colorado, hot springs, swimming with the kids. >> but then, back in town, is when stephanie revealeded one, she was in love with another man and two, the restraining order was about to be served. >> she told me the sheriff's department was going to come to the house and i'm going to have to leave. >> so, he did.
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after which, said dale, they calmed down and ten days later went back to ask the judge to rescind the order. >> i'm never going to spank again. this could crush my entire world and i'm so sorry to you and i will make it up in any and every way i can. >> she wanted to leave, but she felt the restraining order was too much. that dale didn't deserve that and that maybe she overreacted. >> and so, they talked about it like adults. eventually, they signed divorce papers and dale helped stephanie move into her condo, where her new love, ron, told her the affair was ever. they weren't going to be together not then, not ever. two days later, she was dead and ron and his wife and dale were all under suspicion. >> she sathey said i was a pers interest. i didn't think i had any
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worries. >> but agent sadar wasn't so sure. as the investigation continued, he determined that ron and his wife, cindy, had been telling the truth, but kept encounters suspicious things about dale. why had he waited until morning to report his wife missing and when her friends and family were scouring the town looking for her, why wasn't he? >> it was kind of this mounts series of things we began to become concerned about. >> and it was dale, said sadar, who had motive and opportunity. the place they found her body, dale could have carried her that far. >> we were struck by how close it is to this house. and how accessible it was even under the snowy conditions. >> when dale was still talking before he lawyered up, his
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behavior seemed odd. one of their meetings was recorded. >> what happened to her then? >> well, that's why i'm talking to you. >> he wanted to know what we had learned from the autopsy. where we were going with the investigation. 3 f2 averiguar had been cluttered at the time of the murder, was spotless. what did you find this time? >> nothing. there was nothing to find. >> there were no signs of blood, no signs of any struggle, nor was there any sign that st stephanie had ever lived there. >> there wasn't a single photograph of her. every trace of her had been scrubbed from the house.
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>> it also seemed suspicious, said the detective, that dale changed his story a little bit. the first time he called the police, he said they had had an argument before she went out walking. later, there was no argument. within a few weeks of stephanie's murder, the state ramped up the pressure on dale. social services sent the bruner children to live with stephanie's brother in california. >> i'm in a fight with mike tyson with no gloves and they're taking my kids away, too? >> dale wasn't completely alone. dale was truly grieving. >> we kept asking, what is dale acting like? unless he's some kind of actor that deserves an oscar performance, this guy really seemed distraught.
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>> stephanie's friend bill, even moved in. >> we were just trying to hold dale together. he was having a very difficult time. >> did you ever confront him or say come on, tell us what happened? >> he looked every one of us in the eye and said i had nothing to do with this. i'm innocent. >> dale, can you talk at all about the investigation focusing on you? >> i hope they're investigating someone else. >> didn't look like it. it was summer 2011. nine months after stephanie's murder when it happened. >> i was coming back from one of my photo shoots and a little unmarked car with a light on it flashed and the siren went. they had guns drawned. >> dale was charged with second degree murder in the death of his wife. he posted bond and was offered a plea deal. why did you turn it down? >> because innocent people don't --
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>> now, said dale, it was time to fight back. >> coming up, probing questions and provocative answers. >> it's a very intimate crime. it's the sort of crime that husban husbands commit. >> our should i say boyfriended? at the camry effect. from toyota. ♪ [ male announcer ] introducing balance rewards, the new way to save and get more of what you love walgreens for. it's easy to get points on everyday purchases, and easy to redeem them for just about anything anyone in your family could want. just make sure you save enough points for a little something for yourself.
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two winters passed here in the colorado rockies between the untimely demise of stephanie roller bruner and the district attorney's effort to pin the blame on stephanie's husband, dale. he fumed in silence about the allegations. >> the lies are tough to take.
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i just can't believe it, really. >> waiting for trial, he continued to live here. all alone in the family's house near the blue river, working with his attorney in an attempt to clear his name. robert is the attorney. a man not at all impressed with the police investigation. >> their position was i think dale's an easy guy, you know. the worst pieces of investiga investigating i've ever seen in my career. >> he and his attorney told us that despite the show of interviewing suspects, the police had made up their mines the day she disappeared. >> police came to my house, did you kill her? i was just stunned. >> police didn't seem to want to believe him about how happy he was that evening. around 9:00, their daughter came into the bedroom to ask for help.
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>> when she came into the other room, we were laying on top of our bed, cuddled up. >> he said the cops seemed to want to believe his explanation until morning, more than nine hours after she walked out. >> if he was aware of the fact that she was having an affair, he probably assumed that she went to her boyfriend's. >> the last thing i was going to do, just do what you got to do. >> he made such a big deal of the fact that dale didn't join the search for stephanie even though -- >> i called the police. they told me stay home in case she comes home. >> by the trail began this summer, he and his attorney were ready for laws they knew were only circumstanceal. >> it was a very intimate crime. the the sort of crime husbands commit. >> or boyfriends.
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>> well, there you go. that was the point his lawyers wanted to make in court, that police and prosecutors had unfairly brushed off the possibility that stephanie's new soul mate or his wife had anything to do with it. that would be ron. >> when everybody found out that stephanie was missing, did any police officers come and visit you and work or your home that day? >> no, they did not. >> and had ron's wife cindy, had a mo ive. >> no, i said something like i don't know where she is, but i hope she rots in hell and i'm very sorry i said that. >> to make a big deal about the restrainer order, but her decision to ask for that order said dale, coming from her own confusion. the affair, chaos in her life. >> i believe she belt a fake little world where i was the bad
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guy. >> but was stephanie ever wor worried dale might get violent? why would she ask the judge to delay the order? >> the judge said he had never seen someone have a restraining order, but don't enact it yet. not until next week. >> and why would she go on a yoga retreat and decline this friend's offer to baby sit? >> can i take care of the kids? she said, no, they're fine with david. >> that's because she knew david wasn't a threat to her or chose children. >> and remember how the detective found the house spotless two weeks after the murder? it was family and friends who cleaned up. apparently because dale was paralyzed by grief. >> dale walks into his walk-in closet and he comes out, he's just trying. i got to get myself out of here. >> so, clearly a rush to
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judgment, a sloppy investigation by detectives who bought the alibi, who failed to consider it might have been committed by whoever robbed the nearby bank. detecti >> had no direct evidence of mr. bruner assaulting his wife. >> correct. no direct evidence of mr. bruner murdering her. >> of course, with dale taking the the stand, had answers to some stubbornly uncomfortable facts and this question that hung over the defense table like a cloud. >> you loved your life, a lot, but in that moment of extreme range, you killed her. strangled her. threw her body. >> it's so not true. >> the theme of the prosecution was that you were in -- and t t that --
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>> it's just not true. they painted quite a picture though. >> oh, yes. they certainly did. with the help of a woman whose message in a way came back from the grave. coming up, stephanie speaks. >> i'm here asking for help. >> and so does another voice from the past. >> he had a look on his face that i'd never seen or recognized before. >> what secrets will she reveal? >> and coming up next friday on "dateline," he was the print of a legendary hotel family. but as a stepfather, gentle and kind. until that terrible day. >> i couldn't believe it. >> her step dad, dad. her mom, destroyed. >> marcie was howling and screaming. >> a slew of potential suspects. >> there were a lot of people who didn't like him.
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>> but for her, creeping questions closer to home. >> my suspicions were growing by the minute. >> so was the danger. >> it was a hit on me. >> someone coming for this grieving daughter, but who, why? the answers would stun everyone. >> we looked back and said, my god. [ snoring ] ♪ [ snoring ] [ male announcer ] introducing zzzquil sleep-aid. [ snoring ] [ snoring ] [ male announcer ] it's not for colds, it's not for pain, it's just for sleep. [ snoring ] [ male announcer ] because sleep is a beautiful thing. [ birds chirping ] introducing zzzquil, the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil.
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i'm sitting across from a man, who may be telling me the truth or living with the knowledge he hit his wife on the head and strangled her and put her in the river and that's why she died. >> fortunately, i don't have have to live with that. that, i don't have have to live with that. >> what he would have to live with would depend on the outcome of his trial and whether the attorney could persuade the jury that dale killed a love of his life in a fit of blind rage.
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>> i think dale bruner strangles her. believes she's dead. takes her to the river and dumps her in. >> so, what did happen on the night of the murder? the prosecutor called a child, dale and stephanie's older daughter. >> 10 years old, she could say what happened with specifics. >> out of the view of the media, she told the court she heard her parents arguing, not cuddling, as dale claimed. after which dale claimed stephanie went for a walk to clear her head. temperatures well below freezing, you've got to be kidding, said the prosecutor. >> his wife goes for a walk, dale didn't call anybody until eight or nine hours later. that just doesn't make any sense. >> which by itself, didn't mean dale was guilty. this is where some of those secrets began to spill out. the terrifying secrets of a
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fatally troubled marriage, like the one stephanie told this friend after the spanking incident. >> did she express fear to you at the time? >> yes, she did. she said he just sees red, he gets so mad that he goes into a red zone and he doesn't even know what he does. she was afraid to get a restraining order against dale because he add already threatened to harm or kill her. >> that threat from dale was years earl yes, but stephanie had never forgotten it. how terrified she was. >> he strong armed her into a corner, choking her, threatening to hit her. he stopped short of hitting her, but he did. there was another time he threw her on the bed and put his knee on her pregnant belly. >> how often would this happen? >> maybe two or three of those
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incidents that she talked about. >> and then a lifelong friend of dale's who told the court about dale's reaction. >> he just wanted her dead. maybe she would have a heart attack or get hit by a car. i kept telling him to stop talking like that. >> could he be truly violent? consider this woman, said the prosecutor, an exgirlfriend from the past. a woman named j ed jody who tol strange tale. >> he hasn't come home from dinner. said he would be home. he came home, we argued about it and he became very angry. yelling at me. he pushed me down on to the floor and put his hands around my neck and said, if you ever say or do that again, i'll kill you.
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he had a look on fizz face i had never seen before. >> it was the most scared i'd ever been in my life. >> even though a long time ago, it told a terrible tale. dale, he said, was a man sometimes overcome by rage and his mo was to go for the throat. >> she was strangled so hard at such force that it broke a bone in her neck. >> and then the prosecutor introduced his bombshell. stephanie herself on tape. six weeks before her murder, stephanie begged a judge for that restraining order. and now, in court, her recorded plea was a voice from the grave. >> he has threatened my life. years ago, but you know, the hand on my throat, didn't squeeze it, screaming in my face, i will kill you if you leave. i had never forgotten. >> her sister was sitting in the
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courtroom, listening, and was overcome. >> that was when we lost it because it was feelings of oh, my god and she's crying. >> it was as if stephanie was testifying in her own murder trial. >> i would so love to talk to him about it, we're going to get help. and i just think that would go really bad. so i'm here, asking for help. and i'm going to end up getting a divorce because i can go back. >> only she did. finally, this domestic violence expert weighed? . >> when a victim has left a relationship, it is by far the most dangerous time for a victim. >> but what was the trigger that according to the prosecution set dale off?
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the answer he said may lie in an unfinished e-mail stephanie was writing to the other man before she was murdered and though dale denied he knew what she was doing. >> i had no idea. >> the prosecutor said dale must have seen her writing it, an e-mail begging ron for another meeting because she couldn't accept the idea that her new love was leaving her. >> i think dale bruner got angry with that, then hit her with something, then strangles her. believes she is dead, probably unconscious. but she is not dead. takes her to the river and dumps her. >> the jury stayed up four hours. >> the court has reviewed the verdicts. >> it was kind of early, which is always worrying. >> dale bruner, stood, awaited his fate. >> you're just trying to maintain and not just melt, so you prepare yourself to just breathe. just breathe. >> and then, there it was.
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>> we, the jury, find the defendant, dale bruner, guilty of murder in the second degree. >> dale bruner was taken away in handcuffs and later was sentenced to 112 years in prison. >> it is a purpose. i'm going down with the ship. >> stephanie's friend, jennifer, was driving when the verdict came in. >> i was in my car, yeah, parked on the side of the road, crying like a baby. >> and like others who knew stephanie, she wishes now she had taken her friend's secrets more seriously. >> i beat myself up about it every day, how about how i should have done this or that. >> an almost good marriage, with one deadly flaw. >> a lot of stephanie's close friends and families didn't even know what was going on. i knew of a couple of events over the years.
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say it was two, it only took three and she was dead. >> and so, take advice, heed warning, don't hide a secret. >> it's fine talking about it now and hopefully, just one woman would have the courage to stand up and say, i'm being abused. i'm living in fear. i'm living with secrets and i need to stand up and be bold. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll be back again next friday at 10:00, 9:00 central and i'll tadash row on "today." next at 11:00, get your final preparations for the bay's big weekend, parking, transit, traffic, we'll show you the best way to get around, plus how fans can still get in on the action with last-minute deals. the news is next.